SUWANEE — With a need to relieve two neighboring elementary schools, Gwinnett County Public Schools on Thursday approved plans to purchase land for a new one.
At its regular monthly Board of Education meeting, the Board approved the purchase of 19.37 acres for $1.93 million, or $100,000 per acre from the Gwinnett County Water and Sewerage Authority for the Meadowcreek cluster on Graves Road in the Norcross area. Chief Operating Officer Daniel Jardine said he expects to close on the property by the end of the month.
The school is expected to open in August 2015.
“It will relieve Nesbit and Hopkins elementaries, even though it will take some time to come online, at least there will be some relief in a window of two years,” board member Louise Radloff said.
The BOE also approved the third year of a three-year grant South Gwinnett High was awarded for at-risk students not on track for graduation.
Three local churches and several community organizations came together with South to support 150 students each year for 12 hours per week in tutoring, credit recovery, graduation test requirements support, recreation, skills development and transporation home. The three-year grant began in 2011. The grant for this year is $234,167 from the U.S. Department of Education.
Chairwoman Carole Boyce said this program is something that could be transported to other areas around the district, and board member Robert McClure called it a model.
“It’s the kind of public partnership we don’t have enough of,” he said. “It can make a difference regardless of what community they’re in.”
At the end of the meeting, the BOE heard from several parents who asked the board members to re-evaluate a policy adopted in June regarding nontraditional educational centers. All of the parents promoted TNT Academy in Lilburn, as did its director, Nancy Gordeuk, who said she is a former GCPS teacher. Gordeuk said her center is accredited by the Georgia Accrediting Commission.
On its web site, TNT Academy said it’s a non-traditional education center serving middle and high school students engaged in independent study. The academy also provides credit recovery for public school students who have failed a class.
District spokeswoman Sloan Roach said students at nontraditional educational centers, starting with this school year, have to follow the process currently in place for home schooled students. They now have to take a state-mandated test or one provided by a local school system in order to validate the credit. The policy doesn’t change the requirements for home schooled students.
Gordeuk said placing a ‘P,’ for passing, on transcripts would be detrimental to students’ grade-point averages and scholarships.
“What does a P mean?,” she said. “Is it a P with a 70, or a P with a 90?”
The parents said while their children struggled academically or socially in traditional schools, they excelled at TNT Academy. Gordeuk added that nontraditional schools are needed in this community.
McClure said the BOE would look at the policy, but must also maintain its mission to educate children to the standard that’s necessary.